Ashley McBryde at Robinson Center in Little Rock, AR

The second date on Ashley McBryde’s The Devil I Know Tour was a raucous home-state affair for both her and opener JD Clayton.

Fort Smith, AR-native JD Clayton has become the go-to opening act for larger country artists making their way through the Natural State. Clayton and his band opened the night with a powerful set consisting mostly of tracks from his recent release Long Way From Home. He reached back into the catalog just once, to dedicate “Brown Haired Blue Eyed Baby” from 2018’s Smoke Out the Fire to his wife (and tag it with a little of Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker”).

Bassist Lee Williams provided strong backing vocals on “Goldmine” while lead guitarist Bo Aleman put down a blistering outro solo on “Heartaches After Heartbreak.”

Clayton stayed engaged with the crowd telling stories about his move to Nashville and eventual return home to Arkansas. The people at the Robinson Center were happy to have him back.

After a quick changeover, the lights dropped and a pulsing red light announced the entrance of Arkansas-native Ashley McBryde. She wasted no time kicking into rocker “Blackout Betty” from her new release The Devil I Know. McBryde let the crowd know she was struggling with voice issues but would give them “everything I have.” She also let everyone know she FaceTimed with country legend Martina McBride earlier in the day to get some voice maintenance tips.

McBryde and her band tore through a 20-song set with no evidence of voice trouble. A majority of the songs came from The Devil I Know (“Coldest Beer In Town” / “Learned To Lie”).  Backing band Matt Helmkamp (guitar), Chris Harris (guitar/mandola), Caleb Hooper (bass), Wes Dorethy (keys, guitar, fiddle), and Quinn Hill (drums) provided great musicianship and vocals all evening. This group loves to play together and they make it obvious to everyone.

On “Cool Little Bars,” McBryde made sure to credit co-writer Lainey Wilson and thank all those in attendance for supporting her at the little bars around Little Rock.

2018’s Girl Going Nowhere provided two of the best moments of the night. Cell phone lights sprung up everywhere during “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” and the voices of the crowd provided the full chorus on “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega.”

While introducing current single “Light On In The Kitchen,” McBryde once again thanked the crowd for their support over the years, directly attributing the single’s success to them. As the night came to a close, the capacity crowd at Robinson Center let Ashley McBryde and her band know they’ll keep on supporting her in the years to come.

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About Trae Roberts 11 Articles
Trae Roberts is a concert photographer living and working in Arkansas.